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Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais

Print version ISSN 0102-6909


MOTTA, Renata. Risk and modernity:  a new social theory?. Rev. bras. Ci. Soc. [online]. 2014, vol.29, n.86, pp.15-27. ISSN 0102-6909.

The article discusses the Ulrich Beck’s theory of reflexive modernization, considering its recent expansion with the thesis of a world risk society. Two elements are analyzed: (i) the notion of risk as a sociological category, and (ii) the relationship between the concepts of modernity and reflexivity. As for the first, the article puts under scrutiny the claimed centrality of the concept of risk as a sociological theory and the scope of a sociological theory about risk. In relation to the second, it argues that Beck’s theory has some limitations: the use of mechanical and deterministic causal explanations, such as those of restricting the thematization of risks to highly industrialized societies, as well as essentialist explanations on the relationship between risk and culture. As an alternative approach, using the example of the new technologies, it suggests five assumptions that should guide sociological research on the subject of thematization of risk, which would be applicable to non-European societies.

Keywords : Risk; Modernity; Social theory; Reflexivity; Culture.

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